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S Korea March business sentiment worst since 2008/09 crisis

[SEOUL] A key measure of sentiment among South Korean manufacturers worsened for the fourth consecutive month in March to the poorest since the 2008-2009 global crisis on gloomy export prospects, the central bank said on Monday.

The Bank of Korea said in a statement its manufacturing business survey index for March dropped to 65 on a seasonally adjusted basis from 67 for February, touching its lowest since May 2009, when the index stood at the same 65.

A reading below 100 indicates that the number of companies expecting deterioration in business conditions for the coming month outnumber those seeing improvement, but the index tends to stay low even in better times.

The number of companies which cited the uncertain economic outlook and worsening export conditions as the main problems increased, whereas those complaining about domestic demand declined, the central bank said.

The central bank said it surveyed more than 1,700 manufacturers from 23 major industries nationwide between Feb 15 and 22.

In January, South Korean exports fell by nearly 20 per cent from a year earlier to post the worst performance since the 2008-2009 crisis and preliminary data for the first 20 days of February signalled continued weakness.


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